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Allen & Overy (A&O) is stepping up its international real estate strategy with the formation of a new German real estate group based in its Frankfurt office
The group is targeting real estate work as a standalone function, as well as supporting other areas of the firm, in line with plans introduced when Adam Cleal took the helm at A&O's property department in 2000. In Germany, the eight-partner group will be headed up by newly made up partner Peter Hoegen, who gained extensive real estate experience while working in-house at Deutsche Bank. It has a total of 17 fee-earners. Members will continue to advise in other practice areas, but the group was created to formalise their capabilities. Partner Johannes Bruski, a member of the new group, said: "This is a greenfield operation because we haven't had a real estate group in Germany before. "Because we have a fairly strong real estate department in London, they wanted a counterpart in Germany, because Germany has an interesting real estate market, especially for inbound investment. "We had enquiries from US real estate funds and they wanted to see what we had on the ground in Germany - whether we had a structure and people they could use. "Real estate is also an important part of our finance practice." The group will offer specialist real estate advice on matters including sales and divestments, construction and project development, environmental law, infrastructure, engineering, planning law, public building law and project finance. Cleal, who heads international real estate, said: "This is part of the continued roll-out of our international real estate group, and with Germany being one of the major economic powerhouses, it's a very important step for us. It's one of the largest economies of the world. "We're expanding generally on the international real estate side. This is just an indication of what steps we're taking. We're taking this very seriously." Recent experience for the German group includes: advising Furukawa Baumaschinen-Vertriebs on the development of a former industrial site at Heidelberg and the sale of the property to Hochtief; advising the builder-owner of the Fahrlach Center in Mannheim on a dispute with the owners of the adjoining property; and advising cables manufacturer Draka Holding on the acquisition of a contaminated site.